‘L.A. Confidential’ Author James Ellroy Calls Film Version a ‘Turkey,’ Crowe and Basinger ‘Impotent’ Actors

"The director died, so now I can disparage the movie," author James Ellroy said.
Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger in "L.A. Confidential"
Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger in "L.A. Confidential"

James Ellroy isn’t keeping his opinions confidential anymore.

The “L.A. Confidential” novelist criticized the 1997 film adaptation of the neo-noir story and cited writer-director Curtis Hanson’s death as the reason for being blunt today.

“People love the movie ‘L.A. Confidential,'” Ellroy said during a discussion with fellow author Michael Connelly at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (via The Los Angeles Times). “I think it’s turkey of the highest form. I think Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger are impotent. The director died, so now I can disparage the movie.”

“L.A. Confidential” received nine Oscar nominations including Best Picture. The film went on to win Best Adapted Screenplay, with Basinger taking home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Ellroy, who received the Robert Kirsch Award at the festival, previously penned a tribute to Hanson after his 2016 passing.

“Curtis treated me respectfully and deferentially at all times. I responded in kind and did not meddle in the making of the film itself,” Ellroy recalled in an essay for Variety. “‘L.A. Confidential’ went on to be grandly praised and honored and is properly viewed as the finest American crime film of the era. I find the film problematic and emblematic of the Curtis Hanson disjuncture. What I failed to feel, I admired. What I lost in emotional pop, I regained in a rush of breathtaking craftsmanship.”

The author noted the film serves as “a primer on novels-as-film” in general, and detailed how his “dramatic sense” was “always at odds” with director Hanson’s vision.

“It didn’t matter. I don’t make movies, Curtis Hanson didn’t write novels. He gave me the gift of my words in a luminous new form,” Ellroy wrote.

Ellroy previously backed an “L.A. Confidential” television series pilot starring Kiefer Sutherland shot for CBS in 2018 before the network passed on it. Oscar winner Luca Guadagnino was attached to direct prequel film “The Big Nowhere,” with rumblings of a sequel film being confirmed in 2021.

Late director Hanson’s “L.A. Confidential” co-screenwriter Brian Helgeland revealed that actors Crowe and Guy Pearce were in talks to reprise their respective roles in a follow-up story developed with author Ellroy. The sequel, which had cast late actor Chadwick Boseman as a young police officer, would be set in the mid-1970s after the original film’s 1950s period.

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